Three Free Family Days Out in Singapore
So there's two types of weather in Singapore. It's either hot and humid (but not raining), or hot and humid (and raining). When the sun's shining it's impossible to do much without dying of heatstroke, and when the rain's pouring it's impossible to do much without getting absolutely soaked to the core. But here's the thing, it actually almost doesn't matter what the weather's doing because there's SO much to do. And guess what? It doesn't all have to cost a small fortune! Seriously!!! Here are a few of my picks for a day out with little's that will leave you with change from a $50 note (about £30) and don't involve going to the same sodding playground again...
Singapore's Botanic Gardens
Super easy to get to by any form of public transport if you don't want to enjoy/endure a local taxi ride, the gardens are mostly free to enter. There are some areas that are ticketed (like the orchid section), but the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden and large swathes of the main gardens are completely free to enter and wander around. There are storm shelters dotted around, so if the skies are looking iffy you might want to familiarise yourselves with these before venturing too hard. Speaking from first hand experience, if you get caught out you will be drenched in a matter of minutes, and whilst you won't catch a chill it's pretty uncomfy feeling like you've wet yourself for the next couple of hours. So you know, take a huge brolly or just avoid altogether if it's one of those grey sky days. Also, I cannot emphasize enough how much bug spray you will need to apply if you're a juicy skinned person. There's ALOT of wildlife everywhere, and whilst it's amazing to be surrounded by tropical nature whilst in the city centre, it is also the maccie d's of the mozzie world. You don't want to be a big mac. Spray yourself EVERYWHERE (they fly up, down, around anywhere that smells delicious...). But once you've sun lotioned and bug sprayed every nook and cranny you're good to go. There are a few cafe's dotted around, and you can buy ice cream for about $5 from the little cafe outside the childrens garden (the cafe also sells other hot and cold snacks and drinks), but as with any trip out in Singapore take lots and lots of water with you. Whatever the weather you will sweat. Profusely. From everywhere. Apart from the storm shelters there also isn't that much shade in the main gardens, the childrens garden has lots of shade though so we tend to hang around there. It also helps that there are amazing play zones with benches IN THE SHADE. Top local tip- take a bottle of talc with you (hear me out), so when your little one/you are done with playing in the giant sandpit but have sand stuck to all your sweaty parts (I'm thinking feet, but I mean, anywhere really) just dust some talc on and brush the sand off. This trick works like a dream and saves having to walk around with sand scratching away against damp skin. Other favourite play areas of ours include the vast tree house, the maze (get's muddy after rain) and of course the water play area. We've done a few trips to the gardens and have seen new things each time and have barely seen a third of the total area yet. So really, plenty to do for the very small cost of a few ice creams. Also, I should say that the staff are all really friendly and willing to help especially when you have a 4 year old who has cut his leg open and is dripping blood all over their lovely clean pathways. Another reason why we continue to go back time and time again.
Water Play (various locations)
There are two water play options- the free aqua parks that tend to be attached to shopping malls and the ticketed aqua parks that are standalone attractions. Now I'll be honest, I've only done the free options so far. This isn't because I'm a completely tight mum but simply because of logistical reasons- one adult plus two little ones who are only now becoming semi-confident swimmers in a place surrounded by pools and people is a recipe for disaster. However I have it on good authority that entry to the ticketed parks (like AquaLand for any Europeam holidayers) is a cheap and cheerful $2 or $3 per adult and less for children. So you could get family entry plus ice creams and still have that change I promised you. But if you're not quite up to that the shopping mall aqua parks are a great option. Most don't have pools (or if they do they're paddle pools rather than a pool a little one could try and swim in) but are an enclosed area with lots of water cannons, fountains, water slides etc for kids to run about in and get themselves thoroughly soaked and knackered. There are dry spots for parents to sit in the sunshine and keep half an eye on their littles, and being attached the shopping malls you're never too far from an iced coffee based beverage. The facilities can be somewhat basic (as in no toilets other than those in the shopping mall, and no changing rooms) and shade might be limited so whack on the spf and pack an extra towel for sitting on/creating a privacy screen. Other than that there's really nothing else to it. An hour of running around in the sunshine whilst being sprayed with tepid water seems to be just the trick for entertaining bored little people with energy to burn.
I know what you're thinking. IKEA. What a shit day out. It sort of is, I get that. But you can also get a free hour of play in the supervised play area, plus unlimited play in the unsupervised restaurant play area. Top that off with meatballs (with fries and veg) and a drink each for one adult and two kids for the grand total of $16, plus an ice cream cone on the way out (another 50c each) and you've got enough change to buy that piece of Swedish kitchenware you've no idea how you lived without all this time. Oh and you've also killed a few hours of the day, tired the little's out whilst simultaneously tricking them into thinking they're had a super fun day out AND managed to give yourself an hour of child-free time. If you register for an IKEA Family Card you can also treat yourself to a free coffee. If this isn't living the dream I don't know what is. You can really ramp up the adventure by taking one of the free shuttle buses (there's one to Tampines MRT and one to Bedok MRT) and public transport. My kids inexplicably love taking the shuttle bus/MRT combo and I actually bribe them with the promise of an MRT trip if they're good. So if none of this has convinced you that a trip to the mecca of Swedish design is a bonafide day out then let me just remind you that it's also indoors and air conditioned so is a great option for a rainy day or a scorcher.